2017 Donald Smiley Prize

May 31, 2017 | Donald Smiley Prize

Winner: John Borrows

Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism, University of Toronto Press, 2016

Photo: Peter Graefe (McMaster University – jury member), Kiera Ladner (University of Manitoba – representing John Borrows), Erin Tolley (University of Toronto – co-recipient) and Rachel Laforest (Queen’s University – jury member), CPSA President’s Dinner, May 31, 2017, Dim Sum King, Toronto.

Excerpt from jury report: A moving and impressive book that spans Canadian politics, political thought and legal theory, this work is a wide-ranging and deeply thoughtful consideration of the diverse ways that Indigenous traditions and practices address one of the fundamental questions of politics: how can we live together in ways that enhance freedom and respect? An extraordinarily nuanced work, the book combines classical legal and philosophical methods with Indigenous modes (including storytelling, evolving traditions, teachings on ‘living well in this world’, etc) to not only highlight the ways that Western legal and political systems often disregard the insights of Indigenous traditions, but also to show the ways that these living traditions nurture a variety of important emancipatory practices and perspectives. Rich in its insight, distinct in its methodological and theoretical approach, often personal in its voice, Borrow’s book not only forwards a variety of convincing arguments on specific questions. It also demonstrates more broadly that mainstream political science and philosophical/legal thought must engage much more actively with the vibrant traditions of Indigenous thought and practice.